Dental health is an important part of your pet’s overall health. Periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth loss, is one of the most common conditions affecting pets, and is a serious problem. If left untreated, these conditions can result in painful abscesses, poor quality of life, and even death. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do at home to help your pet maintain their dental health.
You can do many things at home to help your pet maintain healthy teeth and gums. A few simple changes to your pet’s diet and routine can go a long way toward preventing the development of periodontal disease. The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to brush your dog’s teeth daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and canine toothpaste. If you have a cat, try using a human toothbrush as it may be too small for your feline friend. Periodontal disease can be painful for your pet, so it’s crucial that you schedule regular dental cleanings and procedures by a veterinarian to keep them healthy and happy!
Most pets have some evidence of periodontal disease by the age of 3 (70% of cats, 80% of dogs). Periodontal disease is the most common dental problem in adult cats and dogs. We recommend semiannual dental exams with cleaning. Remember: preventative medicine is the best medicine!
Signs of Periodontal Disease:
Periodontal disease is a disease that affects the teeth and their supporting structures. The disease is an inflammatory process that is entirely preventable. Your pet’s gums and the structures around the teeth are the first to show signs of dental disease and can help you identify problems before they become bigger issues. Changes in color and texture can be a sign that your pet needs to visit their veterinarian. If you see any discoloration or changes in texture, schedule an appointment with your vet immediately.
Signs of periodontal disease include:
- Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums
- Gum recession
- Inflammation of the tissue
- Loose teeth
- Bleeding gums
- Dropping food
- Decreased appetite
Over time plaque becomes hardened by minerals in the saliva to form calculus (tartar). While this tartar is not visually appealing, it is not as problematic for our pets as the plaque and bacteria that accumulate below the gum lines. These cause damage to the tooth enamel, tooth roots, tooth ligaments, and gums. This damage leads to tooth mobility, gum recession, and worst of all pain for our pets. Pets are good at masking their pain, but anyone who has experienced dental issues can relate to the pain that our pets feel.
A few diets have been specially formulated to help keep teeth clean. Feeding your pet a prescription kibble diet that is designed for addressing plaque buildup is one option. This will help reduce plaque formation because the kibble scrapes away at plaque deposits; however, this does not mean that all pets should be fed a prescription diet—it depends on the individual animal’s needs and tolerances!
Root canals occur when bacteria enter your dog’s tooth through cracks or holes in their teeth. The bacteria then attacks the pulp of your dog’s tooth, which is where blood vessels and nerves are located. This can result in severe pain for your dog as well as infection if left untreated. Just as in humans, root canals are quite painful, and the best treatment is prevention.
Fractured teeth are another concern for pet owners since animals can break their own teeth if they chew on something too hard. Fractures can lead ti bacterial infections, which can quickly become serious. Bacterial infections that begin in your pet’s mouth can quickly spread to their blood and other parts of their body, causing harm to their organs. It’s important that you call to address any dental issues or fractures in a timely manner.
TIP: Avoid hard bones, as these can lead to fractured teeth!
Changes in the structures around the teeth and accumulation of bacteria can also lead to tooth root abscesses. Sometimes these are appreciated by owners as a swelling on the pet’s face just in front of the eye. Another problem seen is when a communication between the mouth and the nasal passage develops secondary to periodontal disease. These communications can result in the in pet coughing while drinking water or even aspiration pneumonia. Fractured teeth, especially when pulp cavity is exposed are extremely painful and sensitive. These teeth require a root canal and crown or removal. Most commonly, we see canine teeth fractured or slab fractures of the large 4th premolars. If you notice that your pet has chipped or fractured a tooth bring it in for evaluation by your vet. Bacteremia (accumulation of bacteria in the blood) can occur from bacteria building up within a pet’s mouth. This bacteria can shed to other important areas of the body and affect organ function.
Dental procedures performed by a veterinarian
Veterinarians have all kinds of tools and techniques at their disposal to keep your pets’ teeth healthy, including the ability to perform root canals and even extractions. These procedures are often necessary because many common human dental problems are also common in dogs and cats. Because our pets are unable to sit still with their mouths open wide, they have to be sedated to safely and effectively clean all their teeth. This also allows the veterinarian to perform a comprehensive oral health exam to determine if any teeth need to be removed.
When you bring your pet in to see the vet, they will perform a thorough examination of their mouth before determining what kind of procedure would be best suited to treat any existing issues or prevent future problems. A dental cleaning by a veterinarian can help prevent dental problems in your pet, but it doesn’t replace the need for regular teeth cleaning.
We recommend home dental care products that have been approved by the Veterinary Oral Healtth Council. These products will have a white square box that says “VOHC”. Some of these products include water additives, and daily chews.
Greenies.com How to brush your pet’s teeth: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v= PWP7zZKK4xw https://www.youtube.com/watch? Diet v=3dBySVcglYI